Tag Archives: soup

What’s for dinner Wednesday: two weeks of meals and a new kitchen toy

27 Sep

It seemed as if everyone was getting one of these for Christmas last year. I watched, and I waited, and then I bargain-shopped.

Happy Wednesday! Since it’s been a while since I gave you a two week menu, I thought I owed you a really good post when I shared one this time around. To that end, I have the two week menu, some new recipes to go along with it, and our experiences with a new kitchen toy.

It’s been a while since we got a new”toy” to add to our collection of small kitchen appliances, but around Christmastime last year, I started seeing this new Instant Pot appliance floating around blog posts and status updates, and my interest was definitely piqued. When I looked it up, the appliance was a bit costly, and with our impending kitchen renovations, not a priority at the time.

However, it’s a new school year, we have the usual “stuff” each night and/or after school, and yet we still try to eat as healthy as we can, at home, as often as we can, together. This Instant Pot seemed to really be calling my name, in that it seemed it might be able to help us continue to achieve those goals.

I finally bit the bullet, as they say, and on the advice of my friend Kim, I used a Kohl’s coupon code to get one for 30% off, on sale, with Kohl’s Cash (and earning Kohl’s cash with the purchase too) and I scored the Instant Pot for $75 (no shipping, including tax). I picked it up in the store, carried it home, and then I wondered what exactly to do with it. It reminded me of when they send you home with a new baby: it’s very intimidating, it makes some crazy noises, and you’re not quite sure if you know what to do if something goes wrong, or how to know if you’re doing everything right. For such a tiny appliance, it’s got a big intimidation factor, just like a new baby.

Ratitouille was a request from our oldest daughter as a new recipe to try. She cited the fact that we like all the veggies that come in it, so why not try it?

We let it sit there for almost a week, and then as the following weekend approached, we broke it out and did just what you’re not supposed to do: we used it (or attempted to) without reading the directions. We were also making a new recipe for Ratitouille, which is something we’d never made before with any recipe, never mind a recipe for use with a new appliance. New recipe, new appliance, no directions. Well played. Dinner took over an hour to make because we had no idea what we were doing, but it was delicious and although we were still a bit wary, we were thinking we liked this new toy. If we knew what we were doing, we’d like it even more.

These potatoes were so fast, so easy and I used them a total of three different times, for pork, for leftover salmon, and for a potato and egg omelet.

In the meantime, two of my friends, Gina and Marcia, also bought an Instant Pot the same week I did, and we all took our new “babies” home within days of each other and a texting thread emerged, sharing recipes, tips, new “parent” fears and more.  There were some successes in that thread, and we began to try each other’s recipes the following week. I chose to make Gina’s potatoes to go along with our grilled pork tenderloin one night and Marcia inspired me to try out a Mac and Cheese recipe another night.

During our trial week, the kids would come home each night from wherever, and joke that we were at it again, making something in the Instant Pot, moving it around to the best location in the kitchen, and they’d shake their heads, but they enjoyed each and every meal we made with it, and I joked that by using it every day, we didn’t need to find a place to store it. (I wasn’t really joking.)

On Sunday, a few days into our Instapot cooking adventures, we tried something new. We took a recipe we’d made before, nicknamed “Liz’s soup” because she requested it last year and I copied the recipe off a video and I have no idea where it came from originally. It was a crockpot recipe last year, but we didn’t have enough time to devote to using the crockpot this time around. Instead we found a recipe that was similar, had the same sorts of ingredients more or less, but used the Instant Pot to cook it. We adapted our recipe for Liz’s soup to that recipe for chicken stew, and presto….we had a delicious soup in a short amount of time. Each time we cooked, we seemed to have more of an idea of what we were doing, and in the meantime, with three of us friends trying out recipes every night, we had triple the ideas and solutions to any problems.

And so, today I share with you our two week menu, some new recipe links to go along with the menu items, and my encouragement for you to try out your Instant Pot too, if you haven’t yet, and if you haven’t jumped on that bandwagon, maybe this will be helpful to you in your own decision-making and bargain-shopping process.

Growing up, I’d only had Ratitouille at my friend Jen’s house. Her mom made it often. I channeled my memories of them as we ate this delicious meal over rice and chicken.

Two Weeks of Meals

WEEK ONE: In the days before the Instant Pot

Monday: Pastene Soup recipe here (Today I brought the Instant Pot home!)

Tuesday: Meatloaf Burgers recipe here

Wednesday: Paninis recipe here

Thursday: The Instant Pot is Opened:
Ratitouille recipe here 

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Grilled salmon with pesto (be watching for a post about this meal in the coming days!

WEEK TWO:

This soup is delicious and makes the house smell wonderful!

Sunday: Liz’s soup, adapted using this recipe

Monday: Grilled pork tenderloin, frozen homemade applesauce from the last time we grilled pork, and these Instant Pot potatoes.

Tuesday: Leftovers again!

Wednesday: Six Sisters Macaroni and Cheese (I am making this recipe tonight, but sharing it now. Gina and Marcia have made it already, and I love the Six Sisters’ recipes any time I try them!)

Thursday: Burritos and Quesadillas

Friday: We are leaving our new “baby” home and going out to dinner, we’ve definitely earned a night out tonight!

Liz’s Soup is amazing, especially if you top it with sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese and use some crunchy tortilla chips on the side!

 

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What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Soup for everyone

5 Nov
Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Three soups that are quick, easy and can all be done simultaneously.

Earlier in the school year I did quite a bit of food preparation ahead of time, making and freezing foods for future use. One thing I’d wanted to do but hadn’t had time to do, was make and freeze some soup.

Recently when I had one child home sick for an extended amount of time, I had an afternoon where I’d have a couple of hours to make some soup. The only question was, what kind of soup? Everyone has a favorite. I love cream of broccoli and creamy cauliflower soup, as does my oldest daughter, who happened to be the one home sick. But, my other daughters and my husband, they love the cream of tomato soup that I’ve been making lately and my middle daughter in particular had been asking for it quite often.

When I thought about the recipes though, they were all pretty similar. Other than the actual vegetable for each soup, namely broccoli, cauliflower and tomato, the base ingredients and instructions were all pretty similar: onion and chicken broth. The tomato soup had a few extra spices thrown in, and the broccoli soup had celery added in and some milk and flour at the end, but ultimately I realized that I could actually make all three at the same time, almost like an assembly line: cut up all the onion, divide it into the soup pots, cut up each veggie and add them in, and then simmer. If any additional steps or ingredients were needed, it wasn’t all that hard to do. Nothing was complicated, expensive or time-consuming. In an hour I’d be done. The tomato soup has an option to put in tortellini and shrimp at the end, but this time around I was doing it without those last two ingredients mostly because that is what had been requested.

Just like that...three soups, done and everyone's taste buds were happy!!

Just like that…three soups, done and everyone’s taste buds were happy!!

Although I cried a lot of tears cutting up all those onions, overall it was a great experiment and all went off as planned. I had enough soup for whoever wanted whatever kind they wanted over the next couple of days, and then using quart-sized bags, I froze the rest. We already had a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon where a few of us had soup for lunch from the freezer, and there’s still more for whenever we need it, whether it’s for an after school snack, a lunch or a dinner where someone doesn’t like what’s on the regular night’s menu.

Since these soups have already been featured on my blog, I’m putting the links below so that you can refer to them if you’d like to make any or all of them for yourself. The weather here is starting to cool down and it will be nice to have some soups for the upcoming chilly days and nights ahead!

Here are the links for you.

If you’d like to make the Cream of Broccoli Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Cauliflower Soup, click here.

If you’d like to make the Creamy Tomato Soup, click here.

Enjoy!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Paula’s Pasta y Fagioli

8 Jan
Fast, easy and delicious! Perfect for a cold winter day.

Fast, easy and delicious! Perfect for a cold winter day.

My friend Paula has the most wonderful blog called My Soup For You, and I visit it often. Although it’s named for her delicious soups, it encompasses all of her cooking talents, not just soups. As she says, it’s “so much more” than just her delicious soups.

On one particular day she posted a recipe for a soup I just knew my family would love; a Pasta y Fagioli soup made in the crock pot.

Now, you know how I love my crock pot!

And with this cold, wintery weather, what would be better than a warm, simmering soup awaiting our arrival home one evening?

I only had to make two small changes to her super-easy recipe. The first change was that I didn’t have the pasta she recommended using, Ditalini. I used elbow pasta instead, which is a larger pasta, but still delicious. The second change was that I preferred to put cooked ground turkey into my recipe instead of ham or pancetta as Paula had done. Other than that, I followed her recipe to the T.

As I expected, this soup got all thumbs up from our family! We not only had it for dinner that evening, but there was enough left to send in thermoses for lunches the next day as well. It’s definitely a recipe I’d make again!

I have copied and pasted the recipe below, just as Paula has it on her blog, but I hope you’ll hop on over and visit her on My Soup For You and check out all she has to offer! She’s just recently updated and revamped her blog so there’s lots of great posts to explore!

Fast and Easy Pasta Y Fagioli
1 quart broth – I used chicken
6 oz can of tomato paste
2-3 cups pureed tomatoes
8 oz diced ham or pancetta – I used pancetta
1 can white beans – you can add more if you want a heartier soup
Garlic
Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
8 oz prepared ditalini pasta

1. Put everything but the pasta in a slow cooker.
2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
3. Serve over the pasta.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Cauliflower Soup

3 Apr
You can either use fresh or frozen cauliflower for this recipe.

You can either use fresh or frozen cauliflower for this recipe.

Recently, my friend Karen sent me the link to a soup she really loved. It’s so fast and has very easy ingredients, and it’s one that I can drink in a mug, so it’s good for the days where I can’t stop for lunch. The link was to the blog Skinnytaste, and this soup has been a huge hit at our house.

The recipe originally calls for a head of cauliflower, and I have to say, it’s absolutely the best when made with fresh cauliflower. It’s thicker and tastier. But, I like keeping bags of frozen veggies on hand in my freezer for when I’m out of fresh veggies and I like that this recipe can also be made using the frozen ones.

Since trying this recipe out over February vacation, I’ve made it at least four or five times. You literally throw everything into the pot and let it simmer. When it’s done you blend and eat. It’s that simple. It’s completely healthy and it makes a great meal or even a great in-between-meals snack. Sometimes Caroline will have this as her after school snack. I’ll take that any day for a healthy choice!

The big, big deal though is the fact that prior to receiving this recipe, I did not have an immersion blender, otherwise known as a hand blender. I tried making it without one, and I could not. It was kind of a mess, to say the least.

A new immersion blender=a whole new world for me and my kitchen!

A new immersion blender=a whole new world for me and my kitchen!

I now have this immersion blender, and I SOOOO love it. I wanted one but I did not want to spend a lot of money so my friend Debra recommended this one from Walmart and it’s been great. I’ve used it for this soup and my cream of broccoli soup. I’ve also used the other attachment piece for making instant pudding and the batter for french toast.

The immersion blender is essential for this recipe, and I highly recommend both the recipe and the blender to make it happen! Below is Gina’s recipe from Skinnytaste, and I hope you’ll visit her blog and check it out!

Using a large head of fresh cauliflower made this batch of soup so thick and smooth and creamy.

Using a large head of fresh cauliflower made this batch of soup so thick and smooth and creamy.

CAULIFLOWER SOUP
INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large head cauliflower – chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • **we use chicken broth instead of water and bouillon cubes.

DIRECTIONS:
In a 5 quart saucepan, add all ingredients. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (about 20 minutes.) Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Butternut Squash Soup

19 Dec

ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 28, 2011: I’m not feeling great today, with a sore throat and a cough. I keep looking for the next hot thing to drink or eat to soothe my throat and stop my cough. When I was cleaning up my recipes from my Thanksgiving posts, I came across this one, one of our favorite fall recipes and given my sore throat, I figured I’d share it with you. My friend Jody used to live nearby and one day at a play date she served this amazing Butternut Squash Soup. Ever since then, we have made it every year. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed

4 TBS. Butter

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 fresh clove of garlic

1 Bay Leaf

4 cups chicken broth

1 tsp dry mustard

1 cup milk

DIRECTIONS

Saute onion, celery, clove of garlic and butter until tender, not brown.

Add squash, chicken broth and bay leaf.

Cover and simmer 30-40 minutes until squash is tender. Remove bay leaf.

Puree in blender, pour into stock pot.

Add:

dash of pepper, ginger, nutmeg and cinnamon, stir.

Add 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 tsp chopped parsley.

Stir in one cup of milk. Simmer until ready to eat.

This is delicious served with a hot, crusty bread. I will often make a homemade Beer Bread with it, so I’ll post that recipe next. You’ll get a bonus today: two recipes in one day.